Archive for July, 2012

Data That Matters – MTV

July 31st, 2012 by Lauryn

Data is everywhere. Big data, ambient data, real-time, benchmarking - there’s so much that there’s no one metric or one way of using it that works for every company or every industry. The data leaders are the ones who take risks, who look at all the information available and decide what matters right now. We’re spotlighting these innovators in this “Data that Matters” blog series. We’re talking to people in various roles across multiple industries to see how they collect, make sense of, and act on their data. Read the full series.

Jonathan in action in the MTV newsroom

We’re kicking things off with the data smarts of Jonathan Goldner, senior director, News Content, Operations & Distribution at MTV News. Jonathan gives his take on data as knowledge, getting away from the gut-and anecdotal-driven decisions to know more, and know right. My big data takeaway is this: there are people I find who are open and receptive to all the data, and making decisions blended with their own expertise and judgment, and there are people who aren’t.

I prefer to think, let’s not think we know; let’s know we know. 

People want to ask the robot: “tell me what to do,” but I don’t think that’s what you should want. What you should want is to balance your own brand principles with the data you can work with, and allow it to be the continual surprise it will always be.

In that way, data isn’t threatening, it’s empowering.

It’s not a loss of expertise, but an elevated perspective of that expertise. It helps us avoid the content people don’t want and lets us focus on what people do want. Many years ago, we were told not to worry about the data. We’d be given a few anecdotal pieces here or there, but overall, we knew basically nothing about what those anecdotal pieces even meant. I remember the day I first logged into Omniture, and much like the first hit, I wanted more. I started to dig for information, and found out a lot of cool stuff. Two people from Kazakhstan read my article, that’s actionable data!  Seriously!

Data influences what you cover and why you need to.

Like at first, 12 years ago  we had a serious discussion about covering American Idol. Everyone thought: that’s a contest, not real music. The first season, we did an article on the winner, but that was it. But, as the seasons wore on, we felt the pop culture imperative, and decided we kind of had to cover it. It’s still a major ratings winner, and it does business for us. We owed it to our audience to deliver them what they’re watching, reading. And we learned a ton about our audience from covering it. What was so weird about the American Idol traffic is that most of it was search traffic. I will say that, anecdotally, I can infer that search means new users and social or internal often means loyal, but I don’t know the exact breakdowns off the top of my head. Of course search and new visitors aren’t the only thing that matter. Everything matters. Like the home page, obviously. How the home page works and flows and its dynamism are important. And we learned a lot about the home page design, too.

We don’t need 75 links on the home page; we only really need some relevant 10 or 20. 

For us, that’s more challenging than you might think. There’s no site that does everything that MTV.com does from music videos to shows, editorial, video games, and a whole bunch of other things. So deciding which 10-20 links are relevant is a huge challenge. Everyone is looking for the one ring to rule them all. We look to data to guide the home page design, the content for articles, the search audience, you name it. Data guides where our brand is going. We'll be covering a new company each week - big & small, media & not, data junkies & analytics allergic - so let us know if there's someone you want to see featured. Hit me up at lauryn@chartbeat.com.

Updates to Your Content View

July 25th, 2012 by Alex Carusillo

We spend a lot of time releasing totally new stuff over here. New interfaces, new visualizations, new sources of data. Those are the big ones that capture our imagination. But the truth is: big ideas are only as good as their execution, and once we get them out in the world we need to reshape them based on what people think and how they actually use them.  That's how we go turn cool ideas into useful products. So in that spirit we took a step back and asked people what they thought of our Content View. What did they like? What didn't they? How could we make it more awesome? And after talking to a bunch of you we, honestly, found a couple of places where we fell down the first time through. Users thought the Content View didn't have enough information about who exactly was making up those concurrent visitors, some said it was too hard to quickly understand what content was the biggest, and a couple even said  the page was generally hard to use on small screens. So after considering a comprehensive smear campaign on everyone who didn't think we nailed it from day one we decided it might be easier to just see if we could make some changes. So with all of that feedback in mind: check out the changes to our Content View.

"I can't tell where those visitors are coming from."

When we first launched the new Chartbeat we thought we'd give users one view for your traffic and one for biggest pages, so you could dig really deeply into both. While that was great for deep consideration, it didn't help you understand what was going on right now super quickly. And fast is kind of our thing. So this time around, we've brought your most important traffic source information right into your content view. But we know it's about more than just seeing that they're coming to the site - it's knowing what page your visitors are going to. Now you can hover on any traffic source and we'll show you exactly that. See if your Facebook traffic is going to the page you expect it to or somewhere completely different. Even better - in case you want to know exactly how other websites are talking about you - just click on any of those referring sites and we'll show you exactly page on that site they're coming from.

"It's hard to quickly see which pages are the biggest."

We wanted the Content view to have an always-changing set of boxes that quickly show which pages were biggest. While this approach looked awesome we heard that it was hard to look at a monitor from across the room and understand how stories were performing in comparison to each other. Totally fair.

So now, in addition to being sorted left-to-right, all the boxes in a row are the same size and the number of concurrent visitors is in big bold text in the upper left. No more mousing around and counting. Just quick insights right away.

And, if you do want to mouse around the page, just hover over the cards. They'll all pause in their current position so you can scroll around and see what's up.

"I can't see enough on my small screen."

We've got big monitors over here and our data tell us most of you have big monitors, too... so sometimes it's easier to forget about that (exactly) 4.74% of you on screens smaller than our minimum size. But just because you're not a big group doesn't mean we ignore your problems. For you, small-screen samurais, we've made things more responsive.

Now that big top bar scales down, so on small screens that bar won't take up most of your screen, it'll be proportionally the same size as our (even tinier percentage of) users looking at this thing on crazy huge monitors.

That about wraps it up for the Content View Updates. A bunch of changes that aren't reinventing the way you think about pages and traffic. But a bunch of changes that, hopefully, show you stuff about those things way faster.

I hope it helps, I hope you love it all, and - if you don't - get at me. There's so much more of this to come (and some really cool, totally new things just a couple days away, too), and we always want to hear your voice - it's what makes sure we keep rollin' out stuff like this on the regular.

Introducing: New Social View

July 3rd, 2012 by Alex Carusillo

For a lot of people, traffic from social networks can be seen as this big unknown cannon of people who can't be totally controlled or understood. Sure, tweets drive a bunch of traffic, but it can be ridiculously hard to understand which 140-character thought has people banging on your door, and which was ignored. Trying to understand how people feel about you while streams of text about your site, the topics you care about, and #yolo rush by is an impossible challenge. And that's always bugged us because social is so crazy important. When something goes viral on a social network your whole audience changes. It's no longer just your loyal fans - now you've got to think about people who've never heard of you before or, at best, people who don't know much about you. Getting those people to your site and making sure they know you're out there is the difference between a good single day of traffic and a ton of new loyal fans. Chartbeat is all about making it absurdly easy to see the important stuff that is happening right now and opening the door to actions that push the dial to its limit. No better place to do that than on social networks.

So today we're launching the reimagined Chartbeat social view. And it's way more than just a new set of graphs.

Our Social View is here to answer two key questions:
  1. Is social driving traffic to my page?
  2. Is there a conversation about me that I should be a part of?
Together, they capture who you are on the social web and give you a chance to control that rush of people to point them toward the things you want them to see. The most obvious addition to the view is the stream on the right. Once you link up your Twitter handle, we start tracking everyone who mentions you, and because we're already on your page, we also track every link to your site. It's not enough to just know when people are speaking directly to you, calling for your attention - you've also got to know when they're talking about you and don't care if you see it. By knowing when people are linking to you (even if they're not mentioning you by name), you can really understand how people see you. But monitoring alone is no good if you can't act. Which is why if you hover on any tweet you can now reply, retweet, or favorite. Right from your dashboard, you can understand what the conversation around your site looks like and jump in when you need to. Throw favorites or retweets to your fans, and be there to transform people with questions into loyal fans. Just as monitoring alone isn't enough, action doesn't mean much if you can't see if it's actually driving people to your page. We're on that one, too. In the top graph, we're now showing both tweets from your account and every mention, retweet, and link. The more people talking about you the higher those Twitter blue circles will shoot up. It's no use talking if no one is listening, so we'll always be there to tell you if you're sending the right kind of messages. Having people talk about you is good - having them visit your webpage where you control the content you want them to is even better, so now we're showing those conversations alongside your site's social traffic. Those rushes of activity should be sending people to your page, and if they're not, we want you to know right away. If you're the topic of conversation you should know and you should be able to drive those people to your website.

So get social.

Head into your dashboard, link your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and let's see how much more you can do with your social data and social traffic now. As always, this is just the start. We're going to be adding more networks, more data, and more ways to help you kill it out there. If you've got any questions don't hesitate to email us or sign up for our weekly Chartcorps workshops to get the inside scoop on how you can use each of our features and real-time data in general to act.